Your Hangover-Hiding Outfit Plan in 5 Easy Steps

Craft a fully functional look when you are anything but fully functional.
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Kathleen Braine
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Craft a fully functional look when you are anything but fully functional.

I've always wanted to be a person who has a very specific personal style. You know, the kind of girl who makes people say, "Those boots look so Leslie," or "I'm totally wearing a Hannah jacket right now." But, like most people, my style has constantly evolved and changed as I've grown up, changed locations, gained weight, lost weight, changed jobs, and gained some weight again.

Imagine my surprise when, earlier this year, during a slightly exhausted, slightly flirty text conversation with an ex (that's another story for another time), he casually brought up the fact that I had a very particular personal style.

"Wait, what?" I inquired, casually trying to act like I wasn't completely thrilled with his comment.

"I don't usually date blondes, so that was strange for me, but you kind of do a 'hungover rocker' thing, so it was different," he texted.

Maybe because the idea was lodged in my brain after his comment, or maybe because I'm a sucker for a self-fulfilling prophecy, but once he'd mentioned it, I started to really want it to be true. A guy at a concert called me Stevie Nicks, and my boss told me that she loved my "rocker chic" look but that sometimes I just looked a little bit hungover (I obviously didn't tell her that sometimes I am). I took all three of these comments to mean that I was the living embodiment of Janis Joplin, obviously.

Kidding, kidding — but I did take this to mean that my haphazard fashion choices might also be mistaken for personal style.

That being said, as a woman in my late 20s working in marketing in New York City, I've had my fair share of truly brutal hungover mornings (and sometimes full days...) at work. This trend peaked in my first few years in the city while I was working at a PR agency (happy hours that go until midnight are killer — what can I say?). However, in more recent times — like the past two years — my ability to function the next day after drinking has rapidly diminished.

My worsening hangovers (and just general growing up), mean that I have radically cut back on how much I drink during the week, but they also mean that the the skills I gained learning how to quickly and (relatively) painlessly get ready for work in a dazed and hungover state are even more critical.

Below, you'll find my five steps for crafting a fully functional look when you are anything but fully functional.

Fix your hair.

A big part of my loosely defined "personal style" is big, wavy, and intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally) messy hair. I spent many years trying to tame it, but after years of trying and failing to get my hair under control on a regular basis, I finally gave in to the fact that I just naturally have messy hair most of the time. This tends to work to my advantage when I'm trying to handle a hangover. If my hair is clean enough, I shower to wake up but refrain from wetting my hair, and I use a texturizing spray with a dry shampoo effect, like Blow Pro Textstyle Dry Texture Spray or Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to just lean into the messiness and achieve a minimally passable look.

If that's not possible with what I'm working with (aka my hair is super-greasy or super-fried), I still usually refrain from washing it while I'm hungover. One, it adds too much time to an already stretched morning, and two, the thought of using a blow dryer when I'm struggling to stand up straight is usually just too much.

In these instances, I find that my best weapons to fix my hair post-dive-bar-evening are hair accessories. A strategic top knot and a headband, for example, can work wonders with only minimal effort extended.

Check out some of my favorite headbands below:

Stay comfortable.

I don't know about you, but when I'm hungover, the literal last thing I want is tight clothing constraining and cutting into my exhausted, dehydrated, and puffy body. For that reason, the third step in my hungover routine is putting an outfit together that doesn't make me feel at all restricted.

The first step in this is avoiding wearing a traditional bra (at all costs). I know that some people are able to go braless, but I'm usually not lucky enough to be able to realistically pull that off, so in my hungover state I usually lean towards bralettes. Conversely, I know that some women do not have the option to forgo their traditional bras, so in that instance I'd highly recommend reaching for your softest wire-free option.

Some of my favorite bralettes:

Additionally, this may seem like a no-brainer, but after I find the perfect skivvies, loose and flowing dresses are pretty much my only sartorial option. You can find variations that allow you to feel moderately professional, but that also help you feel slightly less like you want to curl up in a ball and die.

Some of my favorite loose dresses are below:

Attempt to look professional.

I used to never like wearing a lot of black. It's totally possible that my new obsession with the (absence of) color is just New York City gradually rubbing off on me, but in the last two or three years I've noticed more and more black popping up in my wardrobe. It's gotten to the point where I recently observed that a suitcase I was packing for a long weekend was almost completely filled with black, save for my bright blue makeup bag.

Though my all-black-everything approach may be a bit excessive, I really think there is no way to oversell the benefits of black clothing. Not only is it almost universally flattering, black clothing also manages to disguise any manner of sickness and ailments (read: hangovers). You will look professional, but (hopefully) your outfit will not scream "I had too many margaritas with Kate from finance last night!"

Here are some of my staples:

Walk tall.

Though it may seem like a totally horrible idea, there is no easier way for me to lessen a hangover (other than the obvious gatorade, coffee, and greasy breakfast) than by ignoring it. To wit, I know that this is often the last thing you want to do while hungover, but I find that wearing a low heel or wedge to work the day after a night on the town can make me feel like I am less hungover (because who wears heels when they're hungover?). This also has the added benefit of helping to disguise a hangover from your suspicious coworkers (again, who wears heels when they are hungover?).

Here are some of my favorite options below:

Stay proud, and keep moving.

If you absolutely cannot accomplish any of the above steps, don't fear. Obviously you know your own work environment best, but if you're coming off of a company-sanctioned drinking event (like a holiday party or happy hour), you might be okay giving into hangover land a little more than usual. In this situation, there are the classic hangover solves. They may be a dead giveaway that you're still feeling the affects of the sauce, but if you're able to rock them proudly, who cares?

In these situations, I recommend the hat, sunglasses, and sneakers combo (or any of the three), to keep you comfortable and hide your tired eyes from the masses.